Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections

John C Klensin <> Mon, 25 January 2021 17:15 UTC

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Date: Mon, 25 Jan 2021 12:15:15 -0500
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Donald Eastlake <>
cc: Bron Gondwana <>, IETF Discussion <>
Subject: Re: NomCom 2020 Announcement of Selections
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--On Monday, January 25, 2021 00:38 -0500 Donald Eastlake
<> wrote:

> Hi John,
> On Fri, Jan 22, 2021 at 11:44 PM John C Klensin
> <> wrote:
>> --On Saturday, January 23, 2021 13:29 +1100 Bron Gondwana
>> <> wrote:
>> ...
>> Bron,
>> ...
>> I do worry about another issue, one that Rich did not mention.
>> I remember Barbara posting a note strongly encouraging people
>> to put their names in even if there were incumbents willing to
>> serve an additional term.   Because putting one's name in
>> requires considerable effort, if the impression in the
>> community is that incumbents will almost always be returned,
>> it is going to be harder and harder to find anyone to
>> volunteer for their slots (I note that one incumbent this
>> time ran unopposed).  But
> Lack of choices for the nomcom to pick from is usually a
> problem for a small number of positions but I have no idea why
> you think "it is going to be harder and harder to find anyone
> to volunteer [for slots where there is an incumbent]". Over
> the past quarter century, I have served on 6 nomcoms, 4 as a
> voting member, once as chair, and once as immediate past
> chair. There has been no such trend as you imagine. If
> anything, I would guess that the total number of volunteers
> across all positions has grown but it is still normal for the
> nomcom to do some arm twisting. There have even been years in
> which there was no volunteer for a position where the
> incumbent was not running until the nomcom beat the bushes and
> found a volunteer or two.


I think there are two rather different questions one could be
asking here.  Your comment seems to be about the answer to one
of them; my comment was badly phrased but addressed to the other.

One question is whether Nomcoms have (or can beat the bushes and
find) a sufficient number of candidates for each position to
select a candidate who would be able to do an acceptable job.  I
think that is the question to which you are giving a clear "yes"
answer.    The other is more hypothetical: suppose a Nomcom,
rather than or in addition to asking for volunteers,
brainstormed about who would be the absolutely best person with
some connection to the IETF to do a particular job and then went
out and tried to recruit (and arm-twist) that person.  That
turns my concern into "and how many of the people who might be
identified that way would say 'no' because of bad experiences
making themselves available previously or because they can't get
support authorization (not only from employers and the like but
from families and others who might have a 'vote') a second
time?"   Obviously there is no way to know the answer to the
second question with any precision but, from my entirely
anecdotal experience when I have tried to convince specific
people to make themselves available -- not beating the bushes
but trying to find the most tender leaves at the top of the tea
plant -- the answer appears to be "too many".

Despite what I wrote, I'm not concerned about finding "anyone to
volunteer"; I'm concerns about being able to recruit the
absolutely best people for each position, where "best" factors
in technical skill, managerial skill for some positions, the
presence or absence of personality characteristics that could
contribute to effectiveness in developing consensus rather than
being divisive,  diversity, and probably other factors
(definitely not in that order).  

Analogies to the difference between posting a job description
and hoping someone responds who is qualified and engaging with a
retained executive search process should be obvious from the
above and might even be helpful.